It seems I’ve officially achieved a rite of passage that all bloggers must eventually achieve. I have a troll. At first I was kind of mad, because he’s really a dick and going out of his way to be so, with direct attacks aimed at me, in an attempt to prove some kind of a point. But now I just think it’s funny and he doesn’t even seem to realize he’s only doing me a favor.
Generally speaking, I don’t even read his comments. I know enough from the information readily available at the outset A) that it is him, yet again, and 2) I’m not interested in anything he has to say. I can get enough from the first few words of his comments to know that it’s yet another hateful, personal attack and I don’t need to read the whole thing. None of you will ever know because his comments will never appear on this blog and I will not waste my energy reading and responding to anything he sends my way. Meanwhile, I’m getting the additional hits on my blog and that’s what I want. I’ll reap the benefits.
Like I said, he’s doing me a favor. So to you sir, I say, “By all means, continue to be a dick. Keep reading my blog. Leave your hateful, spite-filled comments. You’re not hurting me and you’re just wasting your own time, because it’s no skin off my nose and my readers will never see it.
Today has been less productive than I had hoped, but it was a pretty good day, all the same. I had planned to go out and run some errands, do some housework and review the writing samples I have for this week. Instead, I never left the house and I watched entirely too much television. Can’t complain about that!
When I got up this morning, I fixed myself some breakfast and sat down in front of the television to eat and watch recorded shows from my DVR. After I ate, I played some Fish Wrangler, taking care of my daily tournaments and stuff, and I made the mistake of scrolling through my on-screen television guide to see what was on. When I got my new DirecTV service, they gave me three months of all the premium channels free. Of course I have to remember to cancel them later or they’ll charge me. I will definitely cancel them because I “never” watch premium channels, or even have a need/desire to watch them. Why would I need premium channels when I have this?
But it just so happens that HBO Family was running all six of the Star Trek (original series) movies and I got sucked into them for a little while. I watched the second half of the first movie and then turned off the TV, but I realized I wasn’t really finished with the computer so I turned the TV back on and watched the second half of The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock. I set the DVR to record The Voyage Home because I really did have things to do.
I did put my laundry away, take a shower, and heat and eat left overs from last night’s dinner at Red Lobster. I watched The Voyage Home while I ate dinner and ironed some clothes. Now I need to read my samples, but it’s almost 10 o’clock and I need to turn on the Grammys so I will be up to date with the rest of the world tomorrow morning and before anybody can spoil the results (not that they’re that important).
Since I am one of the three people whose work is being critiqued this week, I only have two submissions to go through, so I’ll do one tomorrow and one on Tuesday. It’ll work out fine.
So there’s your boring report for this Sunday. Hope you had a more adventurous week-end than I did.
A few months ago, a friend of mine, whom I know not to be racist or homophobic or otherwise filled with hate posted a comment on Facebook to which I took offense:
The cars with the reindeer decorations are gay. I have seen 2 today
I replied by saying that I didn’t realize cars could be gay, to which she said this one was. I said, “Dislike” since Facebook hasn’t been kind enough to provide an “I don’t approve of this” button – yet.
A friend of her’s, someone she knows face to face (I’ve only known her through on-line interactions) responded and said that there’s nothing wrong with saying “gay”. I agree, and I said so before adding, “it’s not OK to use ‘gay’ as a derogatory statement.” He provided a nasty, spiteful comment that doesn’t bear repeating and that really demonstrated to me that there’s still a long way to go, even in the realm of gay’s bashing each other. And I opted to see my way out of that conversation. The last thing I saw before “hiding” that “story” from my timeline was a statement from my friend who said that she meant no harm by it, that she would never want to hurt me and that there was no “cause for ‘ugliness'” as a result of her comment. She said that her gay friends have “given me permission” to make gay jokes.
The other day, after a much too long absence from her blog, she talked about “Me and my bestest queer* are going to…” The asterisk pointed to a footnote that read, “*He allows me to call him the queer so it’s fine.” One has to question: Why was it necessary to point out his permission, if “it’s fine.” Clearly my friend is aware of the potential for offense at the comment.
First, let me say that I am not calling this friend out, personally. This is a commentary on society, which uses these two relatively recent events as examples of the issue I’m discussiong. I’ve made a point of not naming her and I’m pretty sure she’ll be the only one who knows who I’m talking about, so let me also say that she is the only one who could out herself if she chooses to comment on this post in a way that will make it clear that she’s the one I mean…
Second, let me say that I know my friend is not a homophobe and that she does not personally harbor any ill will or negative feelings about me, or the gay community as a whole. On the contrary, she loves us.
Third, let me say that I don’t, personally, take particular offense at the use of the word “queer”. Webster’s dictionary defines the word queer as: Different from the normal or expected : strange. So, maybe I should take offense at the word, but I don’t. Just like I don’t take offense at the word gay. Personally, I am gay, and that’s not a bad thing. I am not queer, because there’s nothing different or strange about me. However, when those words are used to describe anything or anyone with a derogatory connotation involved, then those words are offensive to me. And they ought to be offensive to you, too!
So here’s the thing. In discussing this friend of mine and her “bestest queer” (whom she revealed to me, in a separate communication, that she refers to as “the queer”) she can call him whatever she wants in private conversation between the two of them. If he has no problem with her referring to him as “the queer”, than more power to them. If he doesn’t feel that saying something which she clearly doesn’t like “is gay” is a derogatory use of the word, and she wants to say it to him; more power to them. But just because the two of them don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, doesn’t mean the whole world agrees with them. It doesn’t even mean most of the world agrees with them. And I’ve got news for the two of them: It doesn’t even mean that the majority of that particular community agrees with them.
So, okay. The two of them are having a private conversation and she wants to tell her friend that cars with reindeer decorations on them are gay, and he thinks it’s funny, but they happen to be having this conversation in the middle of a restaurant and other people hear them. That is not a private conversation and instead of making a funny joke, they’ve just utilized hate speech. To the people in that restaurant, they’re not two people having a joke, they’re a couple of homophobes (or at the very least, very insensitive people), using a perfectly valid word that describes a perfectly valid portion of our society and comparing them to something that is unwanted and negative. You can make the argument that “it’s a private conversation between the two of them” if you want, but it’s not. It’s just not. (Certainly Facebook isn’t.) And just like that (*snaps fingers*) It’s not “okay, because my gay friend gave me his permission.” Your gay friend doesn’t speak for me.
But let’s take this just a little bit further. Let’s say my friend and her “bestest queer” agree that it’s not okay to use this language in public, but they are sitting around in the “bestest queer’s” living room using gay slurs (in a “humorous way”) and making jokes in which the term gay is used in a derogatory manner and they both think it’s funny and they’re completely at ease with it. How long is it going to be before one of them slips in public and makes one of those jokes where other people can hear (or read) them? When you allow yourself to think of something as being okay in private, before long you start thinking it’s okay in public, too. Before long you lose your perspective and you stop censoring yourself when it’s appropriate to do so.
Even worse! Suppose my friend and her “bestest queer” think I’m crazy and there’s just no way they would slip up in public and so it’s okay to make there jokes in private, just between the two of them. This friend of mine has a young son; a toddler. If she and her “bestest queer” sit around her house behaving this way, not only are they losing their own perspective of what’s appropriate, but they’re setting the example for her son that it’s the proper way to behave, or even worse teaching him that there really is something wrong with being gay, teaching him to judge, hate or otherwise criticize homosexuality, and if he happens to be gay, there’s a good chance that he could feel shame and fear of telling his parents because it’s been portrayed as something to be made fun of.
Outsiders do not get “inside jokes”. The people around you can not read your mind. The only thing people can go by, in understanding your beliefs and developing a sense of who you are, is your words. It is necessary, therefore, that you use a sense of good judgement in determining how you use certain terms in modern society.
A person can make the argument until he is blue in the face that he doesn’t mean any harm with the use of certain words, but the bottom line is, when you use a term, like say, “gay”, in a context in which that term does not fit by definition, like say, “cars with reindeer decorations are gay”, one can only go by what they hear (or read). Webster’s dictionary defines “gay” as: 1. Merry. 2. Bright and lively, especially in color. 3. Inclined toward social pleasures. 4. Homosexual. — n. A homosexual. I don’t think cars are capable of either emotion or sexual identity/behavior, therefore, I can only assume the statement is a derogatory statement which should not be made.
The bottom line is this: No matter what is in your heart, when you make a statement that has a negative context and you use a term that describes a particular section of society (particularly one that is already persecuted) to convey that negative context, you are, in fact making a statement of hate.
… The first time you’re born, you identify the people in the room as your family. The second time you’re born, you identify the whole world as your family. Christianity is not about joining a particular club, it’s about waking up to the fact that we are all in the same club. Every last one of us. So avoid discussions about who’s in and who’s out at all costs. Everybody’s in, baby. That’s what makes it beautiful. And hard. If working out your faith is not beautiful and hard, find a new one to work out. And if spiritual teachers are encouraging you to fear anyone, watch them closely, honey. Raise your eyebrow and then your hand. Because the phrase repeated most often in that Bible they are quoting is Do Not Be Afraid. So when they tell you that gay people are a threat to marriage, honey, think hard.
I can only speak from my personal experience, but I’ve been married for nine years and barely any gay people have tried to break up my marriage. I say barely any because that Nate Berkus is a little shady. I am defenseless against his cuteness and eye for accessories and so he is always convincing me to buy beautiful trinkets with our grocery money. This drives your sweet father a bit nuts. So you might want to keep your eye on Berkus. But with the exception of him, I’m fairly certain that the only threats to my marriage are my pride and anger and plain old human wanderlust. Do not be afraid of people who seem different than you, baby. Different always turns out to be an illusion. Look hard.
Chase, God gave you the Bible, and He also gave you your heart and your mind and I believe He’d like you to use all three. It’s a good system of checks and balances He designed. Prioritizing can still be hard, though. Jesus predicted that. So he gave us this story. A man approached Jesus and said that he was very confused by all of God’s laws and directions and asked Jesus to break it down for him. He said, “What are the most important laws?” And Jesus said, “Love God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love others as yourself.” When in doubt, Chase, measure all your decisions and beliefs against that. Make damn sure that you are offering others the same rights, courtesies, and respect that you expect for yourself. If you do that, you can’t go wrong…
A couple of weeks ago, I happened to arrive at Lil’B’s house around the same time that his younger sister’s Big Sister arrived. Neither of us had a hard and fast idea of what we wanted to do with our respective Little’s that day. It was unseasonably warm – I was actually wearing shorts – and so neither of us wanted to be cooped up inside if we didn’t have to be. We ended up taking Lil’B and his brother (10 months older) and sister (16 months younger) to play miniature golf as a group.
Months ago when I took Lil’B there alone, we encountered a small Mexican family that we spent some time talking to because the course was crowded. At one point one of the little boys comment that, “Your son is pretty good.” That was, by no means, the first time I had thought about people thinking Lil’B was my son when we are out together, but as I’ve mentioned before, it’s quite clear we do not share any genes.
The Big Sister is of Mexican decent and seven months pregnant. There we were three Mexican children under twelve years old, a very pregnant Mexican woman and a pasty white guy all playing miniature golf together. I couldn’t help thinking, “people think we’re a couple, I’m the step-dad, and these are her kids.” Obviously, if I were Lil’B’s “father” there would have to be a “step-” in front of it.
I had a first that day. After we completed the course we were on, we went to the “19th hole” to return our balls and clubs and I got a hole in one. Go figure. I received a coupon for one complimentary round of miniature golf, which expires one month from the day we were there. So when it was time to plan the next outing with Lil’B, I was inclined to go miniature golfing again. We both enjoy it and it would be silly to waste a free game.
It was raining like mad yesterday. Without a back up plan, I went out on a limb. I took Lil’B to see Beauty and the Beast, recently re-released in 3-D. I’ll be honest. I wanted to see it and I don’t have anyone else to go with. I wasn’t sure it would be up his alley, but the only other kid-friendly movie out there was The Adventures of Tintin and I really don’t want to see that if I can help it. I told him as we were driving there, that I wasn’t sure how he was going to feel about this movie, but that it was something I really wanted us to see. I told him it came out originally when I was young and that it might be a little dated, but I thought he would enjoy it anyway. He said he was fine with it. When it was over, I asked him what he thought. He nodded and said, “It was cool.” Normally, that question is met with “It was awesome!”, but I’m taking him at his word that “cool” is an honest reaction. I told him I knew it wasn’t really our usual style, but it was still fun.
Watching this movie with Lil’B, was a kind of surreal experience, though, when I realized how long before he was born this movie had come out.
I told him this movie came out “when I was young”, but I didn’t say how young. It was only as we were actually watching the movie, when memories of the first time I saw Beauty and the Beast in theaters came flooding back, that I realized just how young I had been. I saw the movie for the first time, as the beginning of what would turn out to be a tragic failure of a Valentine’s Day date – the only one I’ve ever had. I was sixteen years old. The girl I was dating, Cindy, had all sorts of romantic notions. During the opening number, “Belle”, when the “Gaston Groupies” sing:
“Look there he goes, isn’t he dreamy? Monsieur Gaston, oh he’s so cute!
Be still my heart, I’m hardly breathing. He’s such a tall, dark, strong and handsome brute”
she thought it was “adorably provincial.”
In 1991, Beauty and the Beast was on the cutting edge of animation technology. Everything looked so crisp and clean, the scene when Belle and The Beast dance in the ballroom already looked nearly 3-D and that was before 3-D movies made any sort of resurgence. The characters, at least the human ones, seamed pretty realistic with fairly natural movements. The wisp of hair that is forever falling down into Belle’s eye, struck Cindy as being the coolest thing ever. She saw so much meaning and subtext in this movie that went over my head; to tell the truth, it still goes over my head. But Cindy saw it, and I wanted to see Cindy so I saw it too. (Hey. I was sixteen. Give me a break.)
When the movie was over and Lil’B and I were heading back out into the rain, we had a little math lesson. I told him, “Remember I said I saw this movie when I was young?” he said he did. I told him, “I saw it when I was sixteen years old. How old does that make this movie?” Somehow I hadn’t put it all together before we were in the theater. I didn’t realize that this movie was 20 years old. In fact, strictly speaking, with an original release date of November 22, 1991, it’s older.
“I saw this movie when I was sixteen,” I told him. “In fact, I think I saw it on Valentine’s day.” That statement went right past him, but it stopped me short. It stopped me short because that’s all I said. I didn’t say, “I saw it on Valentine’s Day with my girlfriend”, I just said, “I saw it on Valentine’s Day.” I told myself that I didn’t elaborate because I didn’t want to confuse him, but it continues to nag at me.
Lil’B and I have never discussed my sexual orientation. If he’s even aware of what it means to be gay, he may already have figured it out or assumed it, but we’ve never discussed it and I’ve never confirmed or denied it. If he is aware of it and I told him I went with my girlfriend, maybe that would be confusing to him. Then again, if I said I went with my girlfriend and didn’t explain that I don’t date girls now, that seems dishonest. It continues to nag at me though, because by withholding additional information, I missed an opportunity to open dialogue between us.
When I signed up with Big Brothers and Big Sisters I told the Match Specialist, Jenny, that I’m gay. It was important to me to be honest and not keep a secret from the family I was trying to build trust with. Jenny asked me if I wanted to be open about that with the family and I said I did. In fact, me being gay prevented me from being matched with the first little boy they selected for me. In that instance, Jenny told me about the kid before telling the family I am gay and when it didn’t work out, she felt badly. When she called me about Lil’B, I asked if the mother knew I was gay. She said that she had told Lil’B’s mother right up front because she didn’t want to have another situation like with the previous family. But the mother and I have never talked about it either. I assume she remembers, but I don’t know and I don’t know if she told Lil’B.
When I was matched with Lil’B, he was only seven and I felt like he was too young to have that conversation. Now that it’s been nearly two and a half years, it’s difficult to bring up. Admittedly, I’m concerned how he’ll react. And strangely, I’m afraid of being rejected by a ten year-old.
And just when I thought I had put this fear behind me…